As trekkers, in what seems like another lifetime, my wife and I had been eager to go out on a trip/trek for the last 2 years. We were also eager to take our year-old kid along, and so we had to strike a good balance between fun, comfort & safety.
The sunny day started on a lazy note. We had planned to start at 7am, but the taxi arrived much later, and we waved our good-byes only at 8am. By this time we were feeling hungry and had to stop for breakfast. After nibbling on Poori-bhaji, Upma and Idli-wada in the The New Grand hotel, we steered into the Pune-Bangalore highway.
Our first halt was at the Hidkal dam, constructed on the Ghataprabha, a tributary of the Krishna. The actual dam was not visible because of recent restrictions to visitors, but the view of the catchment area was nice. The circuit house has a largish 3D model of North Karnataka terrain, including Malaprabha, Ghataprabha, Krishna and the several dams constructed on them.
We next went to Gokak falls. This was supposed to be the highlight of the trip, but the water flow wasn't at its heaviest. We did have some fun while crossing the hanging bridge on top of the falls and clambering down to the waterfall edge.
The young one was enjoying the trip, but the heat had exhausted us and the music playing in the taxi had a mildly nauseating effect. We hadn't much hope left on our next destination, Hooli, a remote little village near Saundatti. This was a complete blind shot, based only on Uday's blog post.
Given our weak spirits, the PanchlIngEshwara temple in Hooli was a pleasant surprise. It was pretty well maintained by the Archaeological department. The person in charge of maintenance told us that this site seemed like a former Jain-basathi which was converted into a Shiva temple by establishing 5 Shiva-lingams there. There was a shed in the temple premises which was used as a temporary godown for artefacts. Apparently, these were found in the site vicinity by villagers when they dug the ground for construction. There are many other ruins nearby but he advised us not to go there as they weren't being maintained as well as this one.
Our next destination was the Kittur fort. The road from Hooli to Kittur was terrible, the driver was cursing and it was 7.30pm by the time we reached Kittur. The late time of our arrival turned out to be a boon in disguise; there were very few visitors there and we got a special favour from the museum maintainer. There was this new collection of antique armour and weaponry which had been brought to the museum, but wasn't on display yet. We got to not only look at them but also brandished the swords, maces, shields and other devices of violence. Some of the sculptures in the museum were dated circa 2AD and were enticing to watch.
We couldn't see the actual fort because it was too dark to take the kid along.
We took the highway back to Belgaum and were in time for dinner, after a day well spent.